Crime rates have fallen since 2001 on the nation’s college campuses, but the number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus has substantially increased, say new federal data reported by the Washington Post. Postsecondary institutions reported a 34 percent drop in crimes between 2001 and 2013, with decreases in every category except forcible sex crimes, which rose 120 percent over the same period. It was not clear whether sex crimes are occurring more often or whether victims have become more willing to report them as advocates have helped raise public awareness about the issue.
The data are part of a wide-ranging report on safety in the nation’s K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions, covering issues including drug use, bullying, discipline and security measures. The report, compiled from federal data sources by the U.S. Education and Justice departments, shows improvements on many measures since the early 1990s. Adolescents were 82 percent less likely to be the victim of crimes at school in 2014 than they were in 1992. Amid concern about classroom bullying, the proportion of public schools reporting regular bullying fell from 29 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2014.
The abuse of mentally ill prisoners in Florida is documented by The New Yorker through the sstory of Harriet Krzykowski, a psychiatric tecnician who began working at the Dade Correctional Institution in 2010. She had been hired to help prisoners with clinical behavioral problems follow their treatment plans. Krzykowski overheard security guards heckling prisoners. One officer had told an inmate, “Go ahead and kill yourself—no one will miss you.” In theory, a unit of the prison was designed to provide mentally ill inmates with a safe environment in which they would receive treatment that might allow them to return to the main compound.
Krzykowski discovered that many inmates were locked up in single-person cells. Solitary confinement was supposed to be reserved for prisoners who had committed serious disciplinary infractions. In forced isolation, inmates often deteriorated rapidly. As Krzykowski put it, “So many guys would be mobile and interactive when they first came ... and then a few months later they would be sleeping in their cells in their own waste.” Bob Greifinger, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice who studies mental-health conditions in prisons, said that routine neglect is no less pernicious than flagrant abuse. “Most of the coercion that happens goes relatively unrecognized,” he said. “There are very few people who can step back and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute—the guards are trying to interfere with my taking care of my patients.’ ” One observer who sat in on a recent staff meeting at Dade said that the counsellors and the psychiatrists seemed “oblivious” of the mental-health needs of the inmates.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson pointed to a murder this week as a glaring example of the need for the justice system to hold gun offenders with extensive felony records more accountable for their crimes, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. A 24-year-old suspect was taken into custody after a fatal shooting Monday. The suspect, who was paroled from prison in January, is a member of the Orchestra Albany gang, police said. The victim was a member of the Latin Counts, a rival gang. Court records show the suspect has gone in and out of prison and violated his parole conditions over and over between 2011 and 2016. He served about half of his three-year prison term in 2014 for being a felon in possession of a gun.
“The long and violent histories of those involved in this senseless case of gun violence demonstrate the problem Chicago Police officers face every day in their efforts to make our neighborhoods safer,” Johnson said. Both men were on a computer-generated list of people deemed to be at high risk of getting shot or being a shooter. Several pieces of legislation are pending in the General Assembly to get tougher on gun offenders. For years, the mayor’s office, the Chicago Police and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office have pushed for tougher gun laws, only to get rejected in Springfield. The suspect in Monday’s killing was featured in the Chicago Sun-Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning series on the “no-snitch” code in Chicago.
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A video went viral yesterday that appears to show Memphis police officers arresting a man who was recording them with his cell phone, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. The video was posted on Facebook and quickly spread, with national outlets sharing it on social media. In the video, officers subdued the man, identified as 26-year-old Otis Porter Jr., and arrested him for disorderly conduct after he recorded an incident on April 21. “I understand the outrage from the community concerning this video. However, I do ask that you all allow us to conduct a thorough investigation into the actions of this officer,” said interim Police Director Michael Rallings. In the incident report on Porter’s arrest, police said that he hindered the crime scene.
It was at least the third time in recent years that Memphis police have been accused of blocking citizens from recording officers in public. In 2013, police arrested citizens who filmed their actions at a homeless shelter as well as at a hip-hop gathering. Courts have ruled that citizens have the right to record police officers in public if they aren’t interfering with the officers. Police department leadership has told officers that they can’t prevent or arrest someone from filming them and they can’t intentionally block cameras. They are also not allowed to demand identification or a reason for the recording. Officers are, however, permitted to ask people to relocate if they are interfering with police activities.
While crime in New York City continues to go down, including historic lows in shootings and burglaries, New Yorkers should be on the alert for “skimming” devices installed at ATMs, officials said. Mayor Bill de Blasio touted new lows in crime rates, the Wall Street Journal reports. The first quarter of 2016 had the fewest homicides and shootings of any quarter in the city’s history, de Blasio said. April had the fewest shootings of any month, with only 68. “These are stunning statistics,” he said. “These show an approach to policing that is literally getting better all the time.”
Overall, reported crime is down 4.2 percent since April 2015. In a first for any month on record, burglaries in April numbered fewer than 1,000 citywide, while only 464 cars were stolen that month, another record. Police Commissioner William Bratton said police are making fewer arrests for minor offenses and more for serious crimes. “All the numbers are going in the right direction.” Grand larceny complaints are up, particularly for skimming, in which devices are attached to ATMs to steal bank-card information. Thieves are moving away from banks and targeting ATM locations without surveillance cameras.
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More than a year after the Justice Department accused Ferguson's municipal court of constitutional violations and singled out prosecutor Stephanie Karr for her role in it, the city is taking steps to remove her, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The city posted an advertisement for a new prosecutor on its website yesterday. Karr will remain city attorney, a position she has held since 2004. Last year, the Justice Department accused Karr of retaliating against lawyers who challenged her and dismissing tickets for for friends.
The city approved an agreement with the Justice Department in March, yet Karr and another lawyer in her farm have continued to prosecute "failure to comply" cases against protesters even in instances the Justice Department cited as constitutional infringements. The Justice Department said police routinely abuse the failure-to-comply charge.
A citizen gadfly in Maryland has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Senate leaders' decision not to act on President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Politico reports. Liberal activist Brett Kimberlin sued Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA). The suit seeks a court judgment that the Republicans "have waived their right to advise and consent" on the nomination under the Constitution.
The suit seems a longshot because courts are reluctant to wade into disputes between Congress and the White House and because there is debate about whether the Constitution obligates the Senate to act on Obama's nominee or whether the Republicans' current refusal to act is one of the responses the Constitution contemplates. White House Counsel Neil Eggleston has publicly endorsed one of the central contentions of the new suit: that the Senate is required by the Constitution to respond to Obama's nomination of Garland. "It’s our view that the Constitution is worded in a way, I think, that makes it mandatory," Eggleston said last month.